Monthly Archives: November 2013

Table Reflection: Finding a Style

One of the crucial steps to becoming a great GM is to figure out the style in which you operate. This will help you figure out the pathway to successful games that don’t burn you out and that allow you to create the best experiences for both yourself and your players. This style really boils down into three parts; your relationship with your players, your role at the table, and your way of storytelling.

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Thursday Review: Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design

Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design is written by Creighton Broadhurst at Raging Swan Press. It’s an interesting look at the art of making content for games. However, one thing to note is that it touches most heavily on three independent aspects: freelancing, the games industry, and then writing. If you’re thinking about writing your own stuff you’re not really a freelancer, but it’s also important to note that the guide is more for adventure, campaign, and setting writing than for actual game design, which, to be fair, is a topic which is colossal in scope.

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Project Update: An Ostravia Timeline

Ostravia’s been forging ahead, so I figure I should give people an idea of what to expect in terms of it and my other projects. Obviously, since it is now my honors thesis, it’s grown to be both much larger (no longer merely serving as the testing ground for ABACUS but instead becoming its own full-grown game), and a lot more personally important, so it’s sort of rearranged my schedule.

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Game Design: Learning from Failure

Failure is a great tool for a game designer; it is another way to figure out what we don’t want to do when we’re working on a game. Whatever part of the game design process you fall into, it’s important to be able to recognize, assess, and grow from failure, whether it’s as a programmer, mechanics designer, level designer, or even an artist.

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Table Reflection: Cheating at the Table

Cheating in games is considered one of the prime misbehaviors to occur in a roleplaying experience. As a long-time GM, I’ve seen all sorts of cheating, and there’s probably more that I didn’t see going on. However, as a GM, I’ve learned that the solution to cheating is not necessarily just going and cracking down on players who fudge stuff, but rather to make sure that you create an environment where cheating is not a naturally desirable behavior.

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Thursday Review: Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages

Ring Runner (sometimes stylized RingRunner) is an indie 2D space combat game focusing on an epic space adventure imbued with quirky humor. It’s actually a refreshing breath of fresh air in a genre that hasn’t seen many good releases recently, and while it’s not the size and scale of a triple-A title, it has a lot of bang for its buck and it’s got some nice features and charm that hasn’t been seen in the market recently.

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Project Update: The Political Structure of Ostravia

The hierarchal structure of Ostravia is based off German feudalism, which is in part because that’s not so far off of the Polish system but also because Ostravia’s political realities reflect a pitifully weak monarchy with princes that really vie for most of the power. For the sake of Ostravia, there are three major principalities within the boundaries of the royal kingdom of Ostravia. This is somewhat subject to change as the project draws on, but it serves as a foundation for characters and their social personae, motivations, and background.

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Game Design: Working With Randomness, Balance, and Narrative

One of the greatest things that I hear people complaining about in games is the random element of them. And, truth be told, many games with random elements handle them wrong; the random number generator may be faulty or the randomness only serves to force repetition. However, randomness is also a great tool in a game designer’s toolkit; it turns a simple challenge of execution into a risk and reward analysis, and can add great amounts of depth and replayability to games.

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Table Reflection: Dealing With Writer’s Block

One of the greatest things that I’ve seen kill campaigns is the same plight that many writers and authors face: “Writer’s Block”. It’s a major problem, especially if the GM is the central driving force in the campaign.  At a certain point, either they can’t work through the current issues they’re facing or they don’t have the willingness to continue with the campaign because they’ve lost interest.

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Thursday Review: Risk of Rain

Risk of Rain is one of the few modern “roguelike” games that fall outside the genre that I accept as having a firm foundation in traditional roguelikes, perhaps more faithful than other games. I could get into the Berlin Interpretation and look further, but the truth of the matter is that Risk of Rain follows the conventions well; it’s a difficult but rewarding game that pushes the player’s skills to the limit while testing them in various ways. Don’t let its hardcore nature push you away, though, it’s a game that’s rewarding in many ways. Continue reading